Talking Dolls are Privacy Risks?

Yet another reason why the so-called “Internet of Things” is a terrible idea. From BBC News

An official watchdog in Germany has told parents to destroy a talking doll called Cayla because its smart technology can reveal personal data.

The warning was issued by the Federal Network Agency (Bundesnetzagentur), which oversees telecommunications.

Researchers say hackers can use an unsecure bluetooth device embedded in the toy to listen and talk to the child playing with it..

In the not-so-distant past something like this would have been a plot device in a science-fiction novel. Nowadays it’s the sort of thing that makes writers of near-future science fiction throw up their hands in despair.

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4 Responses to Talking Dolls are Privacy Risks?

  1. Synthetase says:

    “Yet another reason why the so-called “Internet of Things” is a terrible idea.”

    What other reasons did you have in mind?

    To be sure the IoT is very much a bandwagon full of buzzwords, but that doesn’t make it a universally bad idea. I’ve got a project in mind to automate/remotely control some home appliances using something similar. The idea is to allow me to remotely see the status/control the appliances via a web page served by a RPi, which then talks to some micro controllers in the appliances. The aim is to make sure the appliances are being run in the middle of the day during the solar zenith to take full advantage of our roof-top solar generation system.

  2. Michael says:

    Nothing wrong with the idea, Synthetase, but how are you going to ensure only authorised people can run the appliances?

    We just use timers and hope the sun is out at the right moment, or delay until Econ7 applies. Selling at just under 5p/kWhr and buying back in later at just just under 7p/kWhr isn’t perfect but it’s good enough.

  3. Synthetase says:

    how are you going to ensure only authorised people can run the appliances?

    I was going to use a login so that only authorised users will be allowed to control the appliances. The microcontrollers will interface with the server through my secure wi-fi.

    While it is possible this could get hacked, the only thing they can do is stop or start the machine, so I don’t really care. I will have the web app keep a log of access and machine actions, so if weird things start happening, I can see what’s going on.

    Unfortunately, I can’t use a timer to automate these machines, because they need user input to start. I need the micros to simulate the button presses. I plan to have the web app use a timer by default (sending commands to the micros at the appropriate time), but allow user over-ride as well.

    Buying for only 7p/kWh!? I wish (even copping the exchange fees). Due to various gov screw ups over the last couple of decades, power is now very expensive in Aus. Our solar panels export at 6c/kWh and we pay ~30c/kWh depending on grid loading.

  4. Michael says:

    Actually our electricity prices have gone up recently.
    7.9p/kWhr overnight and 16.7p/kWhr during the day (IIRC), and 5% VAT on top of that.
    Still better than your deal though!